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panegyrists and biting satirists ; and when the need for their services passed away, the fountains of patronage were dried up. Very soon after George's accession it was apparent that the golden age was at an end. The batch of Whig poets who had remained faithful during the Tory Ministry of Queen Anne's last four years, Addison, Steele, Rowe, Tate, Tickell, and other minor celebrities,-were munificently provided for in the first blush of the Whig triumph, but this was practically the last of the system. When Sir Robert Walpole got the reins of power firmly in his hands, and settled down into his policy of establishing the dynasty by peaceful measures, he saw that the poets, powerful enough agents in a time of warlike excitement, could be of little service to bim, and he turned the golden stream from the Royal Treasury in another direction. Another circumstance helped to destroy the influence of the brilliant occasional writer, the rapid development of the periodical press, of newspapers and political journals. This was almost coincident with the accession of George I. There had been newspapers in the land from the time of the great Civil War, and regular political periodicals were established in the reign of Queen Anne, the first being Defoe's celebrated Review ; but the chronicling of news and the expression of opinion were distinct functions, left to different organs. Such sheets as the Flying Post and the Mercury gave nothing but news ; the Tatler and the Spectator were confined to social essays; the Examiner and the Whig Examiner, Mercator and the British Merchant, were purely political journals. The newspapers strictly so-called were not impartial; they were in the pay of different parties, and their intelligence was garbled in different interests ; but they expressed no opinions, and it was only by the manipulation of news that they sought to influence the opinions of their readers. The “ leading article," or “letter introductory," as it was at first called,-a pref.





atory dissertation intended to lead the readers to certain conclusions,—was the invention of the acute genius of Defoe early in the reign of George I. From that time various news-journals began to retain a letter-writer, as the writer of leading articles was then called, and journalism became a distinct occupation. Much of the public money that had gone in the reign of Queen Anne to the occasional pamphleteer now found its way to the pockets of the professional journalist. It was a corrupt time, measured by our modern ideas of literary independence. Walpole, a hard, unsentimental man of business, who believed in paying for services directly in solid cash, is said to have paid £50,000 in ten years to the literary supporters of his administration ; and one of them, Arnall, a journalist whose name you will find in no history of literature, boasted that he had received in three years no less a sum than £10,997, 6s. 8d. When we compare Walpole's system of securing literary support for his measures with that prevalent in the time of Queen Anne, we are compelled to admit that the great political patrons of the earlier period, Somers and Halifax, and Oxford and Bolingbroke, did have some respect for literature as literature, and took a certain pride in playing the role of Mæcenas, altogether apart from their sense of the political advantages of having men of letters on their side.

The great change effected in the position of men of letters at the accession of George I. is, then, a solid reason for beginning a literary survey from that date. But the reign of the four Georges really owes its completeness as a literary period to an accident. It so bappened that Pope's masterpiece, the “Rape of the Lock," was published in its complete form in the first year of the first George ; while the last year of the last George witnessed the publication of his first volume of poems by our late Poet-Laureate, Lord Tennyson. We thus find at the beginning of our period the leader of one

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great school of poetry in the full blaze of his reputation ; and at the end the dawn of another great luminary and the foundation of a new school. What had poetry gained in the interval—an interval containing the splendid poetic achievements of the first quarter of the nineteenth century, with the great names of Wordsworth and Coleridge, and Scott and Byron, and Keats and Shelley ? At first sight it might seem as if there had been only a full circle revolution of a fixed wheel, an oscillation of a pendulum to and fro-as if poetry had only moved from the elaborate artistic care of Pope to the freedom and spontaneity of Wordsworth and Byron, and back to the elaborate art of Tennyson. But there was a real progression. Tennyson embodies new poetic ideals in his art, and these ideals were conceived and shaped in the interval between him and Pope, The age of Wordsworth and Byron was not only a season of great creative energy, but also a season of vivid and searching criticism. Not only were new masterpieces produced, but new life was given to the discussion of the first principles of the art of Poetry. And not only were the technicalities of poetry discussed-publicly discussed-by some of the leading masters in the art, the principles of diction, metre, imagery, and general construction, as had been done by hundreds of writers on the art of Poetry from Aristotle and Horace down to the Duke of Buckingham and Mr. Hayley, but new topics were introduced, and chief among them the nature of the poetic faculty, and the principles on which rank should be assigned to poets in their various degrees as spiritual benefactors of mankind. Wordsworth led the way both in creation and in criticism, Wordsworth was by no means the most popular poet in his generation,

1) he had by no means the most powerful influence on the public, but he had unquestionably of all men in his generation the greatest influence on men of letters, on the producers of poetry. It is, to use the language of



political economy, among the manufacturers and not the consumers of poetry that his influence is to be traced, and upon them it was enormous. For us, as students of poetry, the most significant and instructive fact in the reign of the four Georges is the gradual rise of the reputation of Wordsworth, and the gradual fall of the reputation of Pope. About the close of the reign of George IV. the reputation of Wordsworth had reached its zenith; the reputation of Pope, supreme and unchallenged throughout the eighteenth century, had fallen to its nadir. We may fairly take Macaulay's essay on Byron, published in 1831, as marking the triumph of the Wordsworthian school. This essay, written

. with all the energy of Macaulay's brilliant rhetoric, laid hold of what had before been little more than an esoteric doctrine, and spread it far and wide over the public mind. Macaulay danced a sort of breakdown over the prostrate body of the great poet of the eighteenth century. He concentrated and emphasized all that had been said in disparagement of Pope. Pope had no imagination in the highest sense ; he had no correctness in the highest sense ; he was a painstaking slave to artificial rules ; his poetry was like a trimly kept garden, with smoothshaven grass, flower-beds in geometrical figures, symmetrical walks and terraces, and pillars and urns and statues,, and trees and hedges clipped into unnatural shapest | Hundreds of writers since Macaulay have repeated his comparison of 'Pope's poetry to a trim garden, and have said after him that such poetry could be enjoyed only in an age of hoops and periwigs. For the last fifty years Macaulay's vigorous caricature has domi. nated the public opinion about Pope. Pope's faults have been put in the foreground; bis merits have been admitted grudgingly ; his admirers have been obliged to adopt an apologetic tone.

Pope, then, was the hero of the first part of our period, and the dethroned idol of its closing years, knocked from his pedestal and rolled in the dust. Ought he to be set up again ? Not all the king's horses, nor all the king’s men, could restore him to the place that he once occupied in public estimation, side by side with the greatest men in literature. But, on the other hand, there can be no doubt that the reaction against him in public estimation was carried much too far. His rank in public estimation-I wish to lay emphasis on that expression; for, paradoxical as it may seem, I believe that among the few who make poetry a serious studyand there were such men in the eighteenth century as well as in the nineteenth (Macaulay cannot be included in the number)—there has been no substantial oscillation of opinion about the merits of Pope. They have felt that his range of subjects was limited, and that his power of expression was not of the very highest, but that within his limits and the measure of his power his execution was of unrivalled brilliancy.” Wordsworth and Coleridge felt and acknowledged this, if not as heartily, at least as explicitly, as Byron and Campbell. It is true that Wordsworth and Coleridge and other disciples had not the same full sympathy with Pope's subject matter, and consequently were less hearty in their acknowledgment of his excellences, and more disposed to dwell upon his defects. Byron, who had tried his hand at satire, was more forward to acknowledge the brilliant point and masterly condensation of Pope's work. But they were in substantial agreement intellectually. They knew equally well where Pope's strength lay, and where his weakness lay. They knew the master's hand, and they drew the line at its limitations. There was no such nice discrimination, however, in the public estimation of the poet, based upon the treatment of him by poetical and critical authorities. The general easy-going reader who does not, in Wordsworth’s language, make poetry a study, knows no middle station between good and bad, between admi

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